tv Dateline NBC NBC October 12, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
i am being followed. there are threats on my life. i know we're in danger. i know we are. >> it's a riveting mystery that started in a place of glamor. >> it became a destination for the rat packs, the frank sinatras. >> and ended in a case of murder. the wealthy heir to this legendary hotel dead. >> he was my father. he is the only father i ever knew. >> now police said she was next. someone in the shadows gunning for her. >> my suspicions are growing and growing by the minute. >> so who was behind all this? plenty of suspects and plenty of motives -- anger, jealousy, greed. someone had ten million reasons
to kill. >> look back and say, my god, i can't believe what i saw. >> you're not going to believe it either because in this case there is a final terrifying twist. >> i see my mother with the crowbar. >> will you see it coming? i'm lester holt, and this is "dateline." tonight, "family affair." here's dennis murphy. if ever there was a little girl lost, it was maya bond. >> from when i was little, i was always in the way. >> she survived a mother/daughter relationship quite unlike any you've ever heard. >> my mother is like trying to hug a cactus. you will eventually get hurt. >> and if the intersection of blood and money intrigues you, pull up a chair and stay a while because there's plenty of both just ahead in this story. >> it's an amazing, unusual, frightening story. >> what ended so badly in a darkened hotel room with the
curtains drawn has its beginnings really in the warm sands of south florida. ♪ >> not the south beach of today with its hot bodies and pulsating dance clubs. that's all a marketing reinvention of a much older miami beach. no, we need to go back 50 years or more when caddies with ta tail fins were pulling into the newest places on the coast. the fountain blue. a hotel wheeler dealer named ben novak built it, and they came. steven gaines wrote about it in his book, "fool's paradise." ♪ >> it became a destination for the rat pack, for frank sinatra, the major stars were appearing at the found fountain blue. >> novak needed a queen to preside over his aqua-colored palace. he found one in a former
coca-cola model named bernice. with her beauties a-- with her butte and charm, she was the perfect celebrity to make the fountain blue the scene of its day. ben and bernice lived over the store in a suite. then along came their young prince, ben novak jr. >> he was a spoiled kid. he was a brat. >> ben jr., don't call him benji, would be trotted out to shake hands with the likes of jfk, then it was back up the hotel zeelevator to home. birthday cakes came from room service. >> the kids who came to the birthday party were strange force him. just kids who were passing through the hotel. >> the friendless, lonely boy,liked by his father's help, lost himself in the fantasy world of batman. the superhero became an obsession. even as an adult, ben jr. was still amassing a floor-to-ceiling collection of batman memorabilia. he even bought a batmobile from the old tv show.
but there was no holding off the real world and change. just as the rat pack faded away, so, too, did the fountain blue. by the late '70s, miami beach of regarded as a stale place for old people. ben novak sr. lost the hotel to bankruptcy and died not long afterwards. the son, ben jr., all grown up now, stayed in the hospitality business and made his mark. he created a company run out of his home here that organized conventions at big hotels. like his father, he was a hard-nosed businessman. in time, he was grossing $50 million a year. and like his father, he needed someone like his mother to mix and mingle with the clients. he found that woman in a recent immigrant from ecuador, narcy, and she had a little girl called mae. why do you think they became a couple? >> my mother was a lot of fun. you know, she definitely partied. >> when ben jr. met narcy, she
was partiesing f -- partying fos in a stripper club. >> my mother is a survivor. she adjusts to pretty much anything. >> narcy left behind her stripper pole to marry ben novak jr. but the little girl felt like so ch excess baggage in her mother's new relationship. she was diatched to boarding school at the age of 8. did you feel you'd been shipped off? >> kind of. >> you had a tough childhood, huh? >> best thing is that it's over. >> ben jr. and her mother lived in a $2 million ft. lauderdale estate with a boat out back. his elderly mother, bernice, lived not far away. mae, the stepdaughter, was never going to be a rich man's trust fund kid. she grew up tough and hard, estranged from her mother. paying her own way with bar tending and waitressing jobs. she had two children young and sweated the bills. it was the grandchildren that ultimately thawed some of the
ice between mother and daughter. >> she may have been a horrible mother, but she was the best grandmother. she did everything with them. >> and ben jr. warmed to mae. the one-time lonely prince belatedly seemed to recognize a kindred spirit in lonely, neglectsed mae. >> he saw me as his daughter and i did see him as my father. he had no children of his own. >> ben, after his own stunted childhood, finally found in his grandchildren some kids who wanted to play with all his batsman stubat babats -- his batman stuff. >> he did a lot of things with them. i think why we saw so much of each other was because of the two boys. >> when she was in her late 20s, ben jr. asked mae to be parliament part of his successful business. she would work alongside his mother and her mother bernice. it had taken 20 years, but they were finally becoming a family. >> when i became older and got into the business, he was there.
guided me and showed me how to do things. >> then sadness. in the spring of 2009, bernice, in her late 80s, had apparently slipped and taken a nasty fall getting out of her car. she struggled to the house and died. mae thought the time had come. for years, ben had been asking her to consider becoming his legally adopted daughter. she thought it would be the perfect father's day gift for him. >> i started thinking, you know, bernice had just passed. and it would be something nice for him, you know, to be like, okay, you do have a daughter. you know, because i do feel like i am his daughter to this day. so it never got legally changed. all the paperwork is still on his desk. >> it never got attended to because of the brutal event three months after bernice's passing. ben, narcy, and mae were putting on another of their big conventions at a hotel in new york suburban westchester county. just after 7:30 sunday morning,
july 12, 2009, the last day of the convention, hotel security got the urgent call. something very bad had happened in one of the suites. a 58-year-old man had been found bound and bludgeoned to death. the one-time prince of the fountain blue had been murdered. who might want ben novak dead? investigators are writing up a long list of possible suspects. was it a business deal gone bad? was someone after his fortune? maybe it was someone closer to home. the search begins when we come back. and it wasn't going to be easy. >> we decided we were going to download the logs of the hotel. >> the comings and goings of every room -- >> 450 rooms. >> when "family affair" continues. [ male announcer ] inside the v8 taste lab.
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under the president's policies, middle income americans have been buried. they're just being crushed. middle-income americans have seen their income come down by $4,300. this is a tax in and of itself. i'll call it the economy tax. i'm not going to raise taxes on anyone. my plan is to bring down rates to get more people working. my priority is putting people back to work in america. i'm mitt romney and i approve this message.
the sprawling hilton hotel in new york was host to 2,000 amway conventioneers that summer weekend in 2009. one of the suites had become a homicide scene. sergeant terry wilson from the local police would lead the investigation. >> i couldn't believe what i saw. i went in the room, and there was the victim hogtied on the floor, and it was a bloody mess. >> what does that tell you? >> this was a targeted individual. >> is it true that his eyes were also gouged out? >> yes, yes. >> sergeant wilson learned that the victim was ben novak jr., a name that meant nothing to him.
the murdered man's wife and stepdaughter had been escorted to a nearby hotel room so investigators could take their statements. the wife of 20 years, narcy, told sergeant wilson that her husband had been up all night working on convention details and didn't go to bed, she thought, until about 6:30 in the morning. she said she'd gone downstairs around 7:00 to oversee getting breakfast organized for the convention guests. could you verify, for instance, that the wife of indeed at the breakfast by security camera? >> yes, yes. we did have her on video. confirmed what she was saying. >> the stepdaughter, mae abbad, who managed the company money on roadtrips, confirmed her mother's story of coming it pitch in with breakfast. >> i was thinking, there is a lot of people. there was 2,000 people. i'll take any help i could get. >> after the breakfast rush, narcy said she called her husband up in the room. no answer. she comes back up, what, about 7:30 or so and finds him? >> yeah. >> she told the detective she tripped over the body, then
bolts bolted from the room shrieking for help. security arrived as did the manager. >> narcy was continuing to lunge toward the body, howling and screaming at the top of her lungs. >> when narcy later told police about the timeline of the morning, the computerized room key card confirmed her recollection. >> her card was used to get into the room at 7:40. but from just after midnight -- >> there had been no activity occupy this point? >> no activity opening to go into the door. that right away tells you that, well, then the door opened from the inside. >> if narcy had been downstairs helping with breakfast and no key other than the wife's had opened the door since midnight, who then had admitted the killer or killers? an early on mystery. mae, meanwhile, had been summoned by the hotel manager to her stepfather's suite. >> i asked him what happened.
they were like, he's gone. i'm like, what do you mean he's gone? try, do something. >> the hotel guards wouldn't let her in the room. >> one security officer was talking to another. he said, it's a bloodbath in there. >> a bloodbath that sent her mother into hysterics. >> she's emotional, wailing, tears? >> she's like throwing herself on the floor. she starts telling me, i think they're after all the convention money. she's like, it had to have been a robbery. they know we carry a lot of money. somebody must have been watching us. >> unusually, ben novak's convention business ran on cash -- bags of it. the exhibitors would turn over their dollars to the stepdaughter, mae, and her assistants on site. this weekend they'd taken in more than $100,000. now, that money wasn't being kept in a safe behind the front desk. rather, it was stashed in closets, under the beds of the staff members. question -- had an insider who knew how they had gone about their business decided to rip off the company by torturing ben to cough up the cash? >> they had around $110,000 in cash. >> you're in motivation country now, right?
>> we're trying to figure out what's going on. >> they didn't get anything from him. i'm scared not just for myself but for the staff. >> and if someone had been roaming the hotel hallways with money and murder on their mind, there were 2,000 potential suspects. a detective's nightmare. >> we decided we were going to download the logs of the entire hotel. >> you're kidding? the comings and goings of every room, every guest -- >> 450 rooms. it took them two weeks to do it. >> the hotel was bristling with security cameras, but unfortunately for the investigators, none in the hallway outside the murder room. one of the first things the cops did was round up all that cash and get it stored in the hotel safe until the banks opened in the morning. then sergeant wilson posted a guard at the hotel room being shared by the mother and daughter. before that sunday night was over, the two women would have another round of questioning with the detectives. >> they totally grilled me.
and you get mad. so of course i was fighting back. >> they were asking you the question, did you do this? >> correct. you know, and one of the cops even told me, we have to ask these questions. i'm like, would you have to get like right here to ask me the questions? >> a veteran west chester counties detective, allison carpenteer, had led the questioning. mae, the daughter. what did you make of her? >> pretty much i got the feeling she was being honest with me. you never know. people are deceptive. >> the cops went through narcy's story once again, hoping for some overlooked detail or investigative nugget. she was a grieving widow -- >> grieving widow. exactly. we need that information. she's the last person that so mr. novak. >> narcy told detectives there was something of value missing -- a gold bracelet that spelled out ben's name in diamonds. an expensive rolex watch was still on the bed lying in a pool of blood, as well as an unexplained broken stem from a cheap pair of sunglasses. and then there was the matter of
her husband's huge batman collection and a rare comic valued at $43,000 he was planning on selling that weekend. batman might have been a motivation for murder, his passion in life. >> uh-huh. >> he had a valuable comic and somebody else wanted it. >> correct. >> wanted the value of it. >> correct. >> sunday was over. on monday, the cops would hear about the novaks' tie-me-up sex games on monday when mother and daughter started to go for each other's throats. coming up, they should have been united in grief. instead, there would be a feud sparked by a single troubling moment. >> i'm sitting there, my suspicions are growing and growing by the minute. hi, baby. ♪ you are exactly one of a kind ♪ good girl. down the slide.
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who had bound, gagged, and bludgeoned to death ben novak jr.? >> the scene, it was overwhelming. >> in this case, the detectives art of victimology would play a big role. finding out who the murdered person was, as well as the people in a circle of friends and families, his enemies. >> this is the address. >> detective allison carpenter along with detectives would piece together an unflattering family portrait. >> we didn't know was this an affair, a random act. >> they cobbled together the story of ben jr. the wealthy son of a famous miami beach man with a batman collection. from modest beginnings. the stepdaughter welcomed late to the family circle. >> running the dynamics of the family, how mae of a stepchild. >> the novaks came off as candidates maybe for the cast of a bad reality show.
but good, old-fashioned robbery still looked like motive number one. ben novak jr. was a hard-charging businessman, a lot of people didn't like his style. he could have cultivated enemies along the line. >> there were a lot of people who didn't like him. >> on the monday after the sunday morning murder, police took narcy and her daughter to the morgue to identify ben jr.'s body. was that when mae started to get the creeps about what happened? watching her stone-faced mother watch? >> i'm throwing up in a garbage can. detectives are there and everything else. we turn around, and she is just staring at him. there was no emotion at all from her. >> that monday late into the night, narcy and her daughter were interrogated by the detectives. >> i should have been, and i wish i got killed with him. >> detective carpenteer broached the sensitive subject of the couple's sex life. >> i know this is hard. do you want to speak to me alone? >> do you want me to leave?
>> yes. >> the detective won narcy's trust. she confided that ben was into bondage. >> and when he letses you tie him up, does he like his hands behind his back or in fronts? >> he likes his hands at the back -- >> here he'll been tied up. in homicide, did you think, well, is this a sex game gone wrong? >> we had brought it up to her. i did confront her with that during the interview. >> ben is found in a way that he enjoys sexually. >> no, no, no. when i left ben -- >> uh-huh? >> he was not tied up. >> i found it odd that the way he find pleasurable he's killed in the same way. >> because she was the spouse, the questions for narcy got sharper as the night wore on. was she in on the murder? >> if i'm being asked if i let them in. no, i don't let them in. >> all the while, mae had been outside eavesdropping on her mother's interrogation. getting chills. >> may said to me that somebody
told her it was a bloodbath. i don't remember anything blood. blood is red. >> listening to her talk to detectives, nothing was making sense. >> when she heard her mother describe tripping over the body and reaching down to touch ben, alarms went off. she'd seen her mother shortly after that. >> i'm looking at her, and there is no blood on her. >> the scene that was described to you as a bloodbath? >> a bloodbath. correct. i'm looking at her from head to toe -- >> you don't see evidence? >> i don't have evidence on her. >> what are you thinking? >> my suspicions are growing and growing by the minute. then i'm thinking that i am this horrible human being for thinking that my mothers could do something like this. >> for 14 relentless hours, homicide detectives tried to pin back narcy novak's ears, grilling her as though she'd masterminded her husband's murder. >> did you have anything to do with your husband's death? >> no. >> she never ate anything. she never drank anything, and she never went to the bathroom. the detectives would come in, question her.
she would just -- just keep flowing, nothing phased her. >> question -- had ben hired a kinky escort girl to tie him up? narcy scoffed at the idea and told the detectives to tone it down. >> i want you to have compassion. please, have mercy. if there is an electrical chair and i'm a suspect, give it to me right now. put me out of my misery. i want to die. >> shortly after 9:00 p.m., detective carpentier brought up the lie detector test. >> i take 1 hundred lie detectors. do whatever you want me to do. >> at this point i am hoping that i am completely wrong. if she takes this polygraph test and passes, then i'm going crazy in my own head. there's no way she did this. >> may also agreed that night to be polygraphed. but then, narcy got cold feet about taking hers. >> the daughter is saying to her mother, what is wrong with you? why don't you just take the lie detector test? what's the problem? >> the mother finally agreed to
the polygraph. may would pass her test, but -- how did the lie detector test go for narcy? >> it didn't go well. >> she flunked it all the way through? >> yes. >> when the cops were finally done with the two of them for the night, may confronted her mother. >> i asked her to her face -- >> what? did you have something to do with this? >> i did. i got in her face, and they had pictures of like the crime scene and stuff. and i smacked them in her face. >> you think your mother has killed ben jr.? >> i think she definitely had something to do with it. you know, i didn't think she did it herself personally. >> the cops had only started to peel back the many layers of the novak family story. there was still so much about these people they didn't know. turns out there were a few things may herself didn't know. but when we come back, she is about to find out. >> i see my mother coming at me with a crowbar. did you know dentures are ten times softer
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the cops were spooling through hours of hotel security cam footage looking for what the footwork team of a homicide investigation was underway. >> we're leaving the doors open as far as we're concerned. everything's on the table until the investigation either stalls or, you know, someone's arrested. >> the body of ben novak jr. was with the medical examiner. mother and daughter, attached now by blood only, return to florida separately. may had her own agenda, telling veent the cops she'd help them any way she could. she was collecting her thing from her parents' house when she stopped in the best cottage where ben had his home office. she was snooping through his files for the detectives when she turned to see her mother upon her like a fury. >> i see my mother coming at me with a crowbar.
quickly, she swung it, and i picked me arm up. she got this whole end on me with the crowbar. >> it was literally the final blow for may. >> she was calling me a traitor. >> she knew that you were giving evidence against her? >> uh-huh. >> could you have backed off at that point? could you have been a good little daughter and fallen in line? >> no. it's not in me. i knew what she had done was wrong. even though she was my mother. >> the battle moved from the novak house to the courthouse. a take-no-prisoners fight over the will. may was giving the cops her theory. her mother had murdered her stepfather for the inheritance. narcy, as the beneficiary, stood to get an estate estimated at $10 million, lock, stock, and batmobile. >> at this point, my mother was to get everything. and i was like, she's going to get away with it. >> may filed a civil lawsuit against her mother, arguing the probate court shouldn't award
narcy ben's money because she'd had him killed. the judge ended up freezing ben's asets while the court looked into the daughter's allegation. so the big money was on ice, but may said her mother had already by then illicitly cleaned out safe-deposit boxes kept by ben and his mother. was she on the list of people that had the key -- >> no, she was not. no, she was not. >> she told them a story? my husband's out in the car waiting. and he'd been dead for a week at that point. >> uh-huh, yeah. >> narcy was seen leaving the bank with a duffel bag. with police scrutinizing her every move and may hounding her, narcy hired new york attorney howard tanner. he says narcy did have authority to go into those safe-deposit boxes. he also disputed may's contention that narcy was involved in her husband's death. >> she had absolutely nothing to do with it. and she -- when she discovers ben novack, she acted consistently with how anyone
would fact that situation. >> the defense attorney urged anyone looking at the case to follow the money in ben's murder. down there in the fine print of the will, it shows that may, the daughter, may have had her own reasons for wanting ben dead and her mother accused. >> may abbad and her children were the next in line. >> if somehow narcy was removed from the line of inheritance, the daughter, may abad, would get $10 million for her children. >> that's correct. >> with narcy out of the picture, may would get a flat $150,000, and her two boys, the rest of the $10 million estate. narcy began offering her own theory of the crime. may did it. >> when she realized the finger was being pointed on her, she accused me. >> of arranging to kill ben for the many? >> uh-huh. correct. uh-huh. >> the mother and daughter finger pointing accusations continued without cease-fire even as they interred ben in the family mausoleum. narcy, hidden beneath sunglasses and a scarf and hat, ignored her daughter.
the mother was flanked by armed bodyguards. the daughter brought her sons. >> one of my mother's bodyguards flashed his guns at my kids. >> i'm packing in case there's any doubt, one of those gestures? >> yeah. i saw the extent of everything when she threatened her own grandkids. and i always said she'd never do anything to her grandkids. she loves these kids. >> there was mother/daughter war. bad blood for sure. but the detectives were about to learn there was another close relative of interest in this toxic family portrait. and more crimes to investigate, perhaps even another murder. coming up, from out of the blue, a twist. a clue that could turn the case upside down. >> this is shocking, and it could be a big break. >> and then, revisiting the hotel secured videos. the sight that chilled investigators. ♪ [ dog barking ] ♪
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mother and daughter each had a $10 million motive for murder as the detective saw it. but sergeant terry wilson was focusing on narcy. he knew he didn't have enough to charge her with her husband's death, at least not yet. she had an alibi for the assumed time of the murder. the case against her was circumstantial. someone else must have gotten into the room and killed her husband. but who? then seemingly out of nowhere, an anonymous letter fluttered on to the desk of a detective 1,000 miles away from the crime scene. miami springs, florida, investigator gary fedders personally knew nothing of the ben novack case, and his department wasn't involved. >> there's people who heard the name and knew about him.
the fountain blue and all. i wasn't one of them. i didn't know about it until i talked to dk ed ted to detectiv. >> the letter in spanish was nothing but a blueprint to the murder. naming names, citing motivations. >> this is shocking, and it could be a big break. >> sergeant wilson up in westchester couldn't wait to see it. >> whoever wrote this letter obviously had information, inside information. >> looking back, that letter had the whole story. the greed, the inheritance, the obstacles in the way of the inheritance -- >> the facts of that letter were on the money. >> here's the jist of the letter -- it claimed narcy's brother, a man named cristobal, hired thugs to kill ben novack jr. his brother paid a visit in philadelphia. >> we apparently got him offguard. he invited us in, told us to sit down. he'd be more than happy to answer any questions we had. as we sit down, we sit at the
kitchen table. the kitchen table is littered with papers. >> wilson and another detective spied something atop the heap. >> there's western union receipts. this is all right out in the open. this is too good to be true. like pinch me. we're holding the conversation with him, trying to not focus on the table because we don't want to draw attention to it. >> when narcy's brother briefly left the room, sergeant wilson's partner furiously copied down names, dates, and receipt numbers. why would narcy's brother, a bus driver just scraping by, be wiring loads of money to one particular person in miami? one of the names on the receipts is garcia? >> alejandro garcia. >> the surname garcia in miami is like being a murphy in boston. >> yes, it is. yes, it is. >> they began running it all down. and security cameras picked up narcy's brother wiring the money from philly, but at the receiving end in miami, the cameras were on the fritz.
no luck in getting pictures of this garcia guy picking up the money. they moved on to the brother's cell phone records and found frequent calls to a woman in miami. turns out the phone belonged to garcia's ex-girlfriend, and he'd been using it. they talked to her. >> where the big break came, she said he had a defective eye. >> a garcia with a bad eye. the data base search was narrowed. >> now we have some sort of physical description to see if this individual was arrested and, lo and behold, he was. >> garcia with a bum eye comes out of the data base? >> pops up. we get a photo. >> now the detectives were on a roll. with alejandro garcia's mug shot before them, they rerack the hotel security tapes from the day of the murder. >> this is the main entrance. here they come. >> bingo. there with garcia in the dark shirt was somebody else. his ex-girlfriend said he always wore sunglasses to protect his bad eye. but he wasn't wearing them on that day.
>> and you see the two of them walking fasted out. alejandro has the bag. alejandro doesn't have his glasses on anymore. >> broken frames. which are now -- >> apparently as the victim reacts to the assault, he hits alejandro in the face, breaking the glasses. the glasses fall on to the bed. >> nay rewound the tapes further back to the first day of the convention, there they were again. garcia in sunglasses and the yellow shirt, the other guy casing the hotel. in one scene, they check out their future victim, ben novack jr., in the lobby. >> in less than 48 hours they're going to murder this guy? >> in less than 48 hours they're going to murder this guy. >> the second man is joel gonzalez of miami. wilson and his team had two targets and started with the apparent leader, garcia. >> we started to hunt him down. >> the miami hunt didn't take long. garcia was picked up on an outstanding percent. the new york cops -- outstanding
warrant. the new york cops braced him. he denied ever being in new york. >> he's on video in the hotel. >> detectives had some surprises to smoke out their one-eyed suspect. they showed him stills from the security cam footage. garcia and his suspected accomplice in the hotel. the capper was a taperecording of a phone call between the detective and narcy's brother. in the call, he sounded cooperative, says he wants to help the cops and gives them the name alejandro garcia as a person good for the murder. garcia listens silently ads the brother threw him under the bus. >> cristobal did the murder. >> he told me you did it. >> he denied being the hit man in the interrogation, but the message was clear. get on board now, confess, or take the fall. >> he's going to be booked on chashl charges of murder.
>> the evidence against narcy's brother was piling up. cell phone tower records showing her near the hotel on the morning of the murder. evidence he preside provided a getaway car and driver. who was in charge? >> the street boss that was handling everything that was going was cristobal belize. >> who was the boss of bosses? with a $10 million motive, there was only one answer for the cops. narcy nova novack had ordered t hit. >> obviously he reported to narcy, worked at the direction. >> what started as a small suburban village investigation was now a multistate conspiracy case. the decision was made to let federal prosecutors take the complex conspiracy to trial. the suspected hitmen, garcia and gonzalez, were offered a deal -- testify against narcy and her brother or go away to prison for what would likely be life extends. the two confessed to being the
hitmen in the murder-for-hire scheme. then garcia shocked prosecutors. there was something else -- a second murder they didn't know about. if they didn't act fast, he said, a third was on the way. coming up -- just who was in the cross hairs? >> there was a hit out on me. >> this detective's personal quest to save this daughter in danger. and coming up next friday on "dateline," their relationship made headlines. she was an nfl cheerleader and a teacher who this week pleaded guilty to having sex with a teenage student. >> i knew i was doing something wrong. >> yet, you still did it. >> right. >> now, she's telling "dateline" the whole story. for the first time, so is he. >> when you heard the police were investigating? >> i would just lay in bed and cry. coming up in two weeks -- >> don't touch him. do not touch him! you're illegally selling these drugs. is there anything else you want to say? >> he's back.
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they claimed ben's wife, narcy, and her brother paid them to do it. but still no charges had been filed as police continued to investigate. and then the hit man, alejandro garcia, dropped a bombshell. he claimed he also killed someone else on orders from narcy and her brother almost a year earlier. and he'd gotten away with it. the murder for hire, none other than ben novack's 87-year-old mother, bernice. the one-time queen of the fountain blue died three months before ben in what florida cops and the medical examiner ruled was an accidental death.
a slip and fall getting out of her car. how does he kill her? >> he had a monkey wrench and took what appeared to be a baseball swing and hit her several times in the head. >> garcia said she got paid $600 for the job. but why kill ben's 87-year-old mother? because in ben's will in place at the time, if he died first, his mother, not his wife narcy, would be the primary beneficiary. but with bernice dead, there was nothing standing in narcy's way. >> had they not tried to kill ben and succeeded in killing ben, they would have probably never been caught. >> and there was more -- when detectives arrested garcia, they learned that still a third murder might be in the works. someone else provided for in the will -- narcy's daughter, may. she was in serious peril? >> i always believed that she was. i just couldn't prove it to anybody. when we sat down with alejandro garcia and learned that there was a hit out on may, that became concerning.
>> a battered photo of may of found in garcia, the confessed hit man's, wallet. he was told she'd be the next job. may freaked. she needed to move apartments asap and told federal prosecutors she didn't have the money. the feds told her they'd get her the money, but the paperwork would take time. detective allison carpentier didn't think there was time. and here came a moment of big moral dilemma, ethical dilemma for you as a person and an officer. >> yes, it was hard. >> what did you decide to do? >> i decided to give her money and tell her to move. >> your money from your bank picture? >> yes. >> the westchester detective loaned may $5,000 of her own money. may promised to pay her back. when prosecutors learned of it, they removed detective carpentier from the case. the defense, they admonished, would kay she bought witness testimony. >> i couldn't sleep if i knew something happened when i woke
up in the morning. >> if i didn't move when i did, i wouldn't be here today. >> almost a year after ben's murder, narcy was indicted and walked before the cameras of "american's most wanted." she and her brother, cristobal, were charged with racketeering and conspiracy for two murders, witness tampering, and a host of other charges. >> the plot that led to the death of ben novack of a family affair. >> when the trial got underway in federal court, garcia, the hit man, testified in ice-cold detail how he killed ben novack jr. how did they get into the room? >> narcy opened the door and let them in. >> prosecutors argued that morning there was a small window of opportunity for narcy to let the hitmen in and direct the assault on her sleeping husband. >> the victim is in bed. they get right in position, they signal, one, two, three, and then boom. then the assault starts. >> and they're banging him in the head -- >> hit him all over the head. hit him in the ribs. i mean, brutally.
>> the two hitmen used small hand weights to pummel ben. narcy looked on. >> then there is a point in time where i guess he's making sounds, moans. and she tosses a pillow in to keep him quiet. >> did they say that narcy tells them to cut out his eyes? >> she did. >> admit trial, the case against narcy's brother was solid. a long trail of wire transfers, credit card receipts, and cell phone records connected him to the hitmen. but for narcy, it was primarily the hitmen's word against her until the jury heard about narcy's secret cell phone. on the morning of the murder, garcia thaftd narcy called -- testified that narcy called her brother. >> narcy calls from the phone at 6:39 in the morning to say, come on in, you know -- >> coast is heclear. >> coast is clear. it's huge because cristobal is saying to let the kifrls illers.
>> yes. >> would you surprised to learn that there's another woman in the story? a person named rebecca bliss. >> you're looking mighty sexy today. >> thank you. >> bliss, a south florida tattoo artist and sometime porn actress was having an affair with ben jr. he put her up in a nice waterfront apartment and told bliss he was going to leave his wife for her. narcy, the story goes, learned of the affair and called bliss saying, "if i can't have him, no one will." six months later, he was dead, and without eyes to ever look at another woman. >> this case was about money, and it was about narcy not wanting to be replaced. >> when defense attorney howard tanner puts on his case, he zeroed in on the hitmen's credibility and motivation in testifying. he also attacked their allegation that narcy was in the room during the murder. >> they themselves stated that they would do anything to help themselves. in my book, they would have been willing to lie. >> is narcy in the room? >> absolutely not. >> how about the disturbing direction she allegedly gives them? gouge his eyes out?
>> just didn't happen. >> the defense also suggested that narcy's daughter may could have been involved in the murder so she and her sons could inherit ben's estate. >> may abad had narcy novack in her way. if narcy novack disappears, she takes and her children take under the will. those are facts. >> so that's the defense. jurors consider who's going to get the money here. and it's not just narcy novack, it's the daughter here, may. >> there was an incomplete investigation done in this case. i'm not claiming that anyone else committed this murder. the defense here is that narcy novack did not commit this murder. >> detectives concluded that may knew nothing about ben's will until well after the murder. >> i didn't even know that my name or the boys' names were in the will. >> after a nine-week trial, narcy and her brother were found guilty of racketeering and conspiracy in the death of ben novack jr. and his mother bernice. they were aquitted of only one
charge involving the theft of ben's diamond bracelet. for the crime the conspirators almost got away with, the murder of bernice novack, the conviction carried a mandatory life sentence for both. >> the best part of it was that bernice could finally rest in peace. >> after the verdict, narcy spoke by telephone with "dateline" from prison. she says she would never have done anything to harm her husband, ben, and was innocent of all the charges. sergeant terry wilson and his team of detectives, the prosecutors, won their case with some big assists from may abad. now her mother is gone and will spend the rest of her life in prison. >> she didn't see what she had in front of her. she had her daughter. she had two grandkids that totally loved her. and now she has nothing. >> and greed and some amount of jealousy presumably is driving this, huh? >> absolutely. no matter what, i love my mother. she was my mother. she had grandkids that adored her, that would have done anything for her. and they did. and she just threw it all away.
threw it all away for money. >> if you if to miami beach, the fountain blue is still there. all spruced up with a new lease on life. and may has a fresh new outlook on the rest of her life, too. >> come here, buddy. >> a new little gile in h-- new little guy in her life, a 1-year-old named ben after the lost prince. the namesake he never got to meet. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll be back again next friday at 10:00, 9:00 central. i'll see you tomorrow on "today." i'm loeltd. f -- i'm lester holt.